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A children's gift guide

Moms and Dads grew up with the iconic Mr. Potato Head, Barbie and LEGOs. A new generation can enjoy the same old favorites -- but with new twists. "Parents remember loving these toys and now they have a whole new way to share them with their kids," says Laurie Schact, co-publisher of The Toy Insider, a consumer guide for parents. Look what the toy companies have done this holiday season to update a dozen of the classics:

Spud Bob Squarepants

For ages: 2 and older

$9.99 at major toy retailers

Mr. Potato Head -- invented in 1949 -- gets a new spin as he borrows from Nickelodeon's "SpongeBob SquarePants." Comes with eight SpongeBob-themed pieces.

Barbie Designable Hair Extensions

For ages: 6 and older

$31.99 at major toy retailers

Barbie's always keeping up with the times; this year, she's into the hair-decoration trend. Girls use the design-center website at to create extensions for Barbie and matching ones for themselves. Works with inkjet printers. Comes with doll and printable sheets.

Operation: Cars 2

For ages: 6 and older

$19.99 at major toy retailers

Instead of operating on a human being as is done in the classic version, this time the tweezers are used to do repairs on a car. Take out the Spare Tire, the Broken Belt, the Busted Grill, the Oil Can and more without causing the warning buzz to sound.

Connect 4 Launchers

For ages: 5 and older

$19.99 at major toy retailers

It used to be that players slid discs into a plastic grid, but now they have to launch discs into a three-dimensional grid to land four in a row before their opponent.

Hebrew Bananagrams

For ages: 7 and older

$19.99 at

Granted, Bananagrams isn't that old, but it's ubiquitous, with more than 5 million sold. And this definitely is a new twist in time for Hanukkah: Hebrew letters. Hebrew Bananagrams launched in Israel and has now come to North America, with 144 tiles in a banana sack, just like the original.

Hot Wheels Wall Tracks Starter Kits

$29.99 at major toy retailers

For ages: 4 and older

This wall-mounted track takes the racing system off the floor. It includes ramps, a 360-degree loop and one Hot Wheels vehicle. The tracks are held in place by adhesive Command Strips from 3M; no need for nails. This set is the base for a variety of other available loops, turns and expansions.

Razor eSpark Electric Scooter

For ages: 8 and older

$159.99 at major toy retailers

This motorized scooter has a Spark Bar that sends sparks shooting out the back. It runs for up to 40 minutes at up to 10 miles per hour. The battery takes about 16 hours to charge.

3-in-1 LEGO Target Gift Card

For ages: 6 and older

$5 and up at Target

Is this a new twist on LEGO? Or on gift cards? You decide. The Target LEGO Gift Card can be made into Bullseye the Dog, a polar bear or a snowman. Oh, and it can buy fun things at Target.

Simon Flash

For ages: 8 and older

$29.99 at major toy retailers

The premise is the same as the 1980s hit in which players try to repeat patterns that flashed onto one unit; in this year's version, four separate jewel-toned cubes can be moved around during play.

Tetris Link

For ages: 6 and older

$24.99 at major toy retailers

Usually updating a toy for this generation means making it into a video game or app. But this time, an electronic game is brought to the real-word table. To play Tetris Link, players drop blocks called Tetriminos into a grid, trying to link same-colored Tetriminos together to earn points while also blocking their opponents. Game ends when the tower is full.

Light Up Shoelaces

For ages: 6 and older

$12.98 for a set from

Light-up sneakers are so five years ago, but light-up shoelaces? Cool! LED lights give the shoelaces three possibilities: glow, blink or slow flash. Laces come in either blue, green, pink or red and are waterproof. Replaceable batteries last for up to 70 hours.

Easy Bake Ultimate Oven

For ages: 8 and older, adult supervision recommended

$49.99 at major toy retailers

No more cooking by lightbulb with the updated, sleek-looking 2011 oven. Includes mixes and pans to bake cake and cookies. A little trivia: The Easy Bake Oven debuted in 1963 for $15.95.

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